How did roles get reversed? Semiotically, I presume. Indeed, few political signifiers connote as many signs as "conservative:" it can mean (as it once did), a limited role for government beyond those duties specifically called for by the preamble to the Constitution, that government is established in order to "promote the general welfare" and "provide for the common defense." It can also mean (as it does now) conserving longtime social beliefs despite a continually evolving culture (another historical deathtrap - social conservatives in the South led to the Civil War). Hey - what about environmental conservation, which calls for the responsible stewardship of natural resources? In one sense, environmental conservation and Goldwater conservatism have a lot in common concerning definitive terms: both call for responsible stewardship - one of natural resources, one of social and fiscal resources. The key term, here, is "responsible," something of which neoconservatives know nothing.
Responsibility. Conservation. Stewardship.
Neoconservatives strive to promote a single worldview, ignoring any who dissent with even part of that view. Responsibile social policy does not shut out any views, rather, it weighs all concerns equally and comes to a fair compromise that, indeed, "promotes" the general well-being (welfare in its original sense). Dissenters in the neoconservative view are treated as subhuman: think of homosexuals and Muslims. We're spending trillions of dollars a year intervening abroad because of some screwed up sense of moral responsibility to subdue the heathen via crusade - a term applied to our present war by top governmental officials.
It makes me sick. I suppose that most who, like me, formerly identified themselves as moderate Republicans, have either become independent, or, like me, conservative Democrats. Just what is a conservative Democrat? I'll lay it out for you:
- Don't worry about the rest of the world when problems at home are too great to enumerate. Instead of spending trillions of dollars a year fighting a war on two fronts, one of which was begun for no reason other than "he tried to have my daddy killed," keep our military within our borders, where they can protect us. Don't spread them out all over the board - any kid who's played Risk can tell you that it's damn near impossible to conquer Australia because it's too easy to defend: one avenue of attack, and defenders concentrated in that one avenue.
- Don't spend money we don't have. "Pay-go" was a brilliant policy: if you need to increase spending on something, make sure that you either have the revenue or can cut spending elsewhere. Or eliminate "no-bid" contracts - those are irresponsible as hell.
- I suppose it all boils down to this: don't cut taxes (revenue) and increase spending (outlay). You get one or the other, but not both.
- Again, not fiscal libertarianism, which espouses unchecked capitalism. Legally, a corporation may be an individual; however, socially, a corporation has no conscience. Historically, unchecked capitalism led to the creation of Communism - Karl Marx got to witness, firsthand, how kind capitalism was to the children of Victorian England.
- The government has no business telling people how to live. Sure, spout off all of the propaganda that Preacher tells you about the Founders and how Christian they were, but remember, at least half were Deists (look it up - a novel idea, I know). All of our "temples of democracy" resemble pagan architecture - for good reason.
- Religion has no place in the public sphere. There is absolutely no evidence that religious zealouts are any more moral and decent than agnostics and athiests. Want proof? Remember this: nearly every massacre throughout history had religion and morality at its core. Want proof? I'll give you a brief rundown: The Crusades, The Inquisition, the English civil war, American Slavery, the Holocaust, the Bosnian conflict, September 11. How many wars were caused by athiests?